Hospice and The Griever

August 20, 2021



a home providing care for the sick or terminally ill

A hospice is a home that provides care for someone who is sick or terminally ill. Hospice care can prove effective in providing support for the patient and their family at a very tough time in their lives.

Hospice is also a very scary word. To most people who don’t have a good understanding of what a hospice is, it might sound like a place where one goes to die.

We have had clients tell us that they would never use a hospice because of something that happened in a hospice when their aunt died 15 years ago.

However, our experience with a hospice was completely different when our father died. In fact, it was exactly what we needed. We were able to ask questions and get information on how to handle certain situations.

We know that many families struggle with the decision as to whether to use a hospice or not. We also know that many a time, the struggle comes from the thought of the impending death of a loved one.

We did not struggle with the question of whether it was the end. We were witnesses to the unforgiving disease of cancer, which was taking a toll on our father’s body.

Just to be clear, this blog is not an ad in support of or against hospices. We want to reach out to people struggling with their grief because they are in a relationship with hospice.

It can be so easy to put off your grieving because you are busy with the big decisions that need to be made, such as the following:

  • When do I bring in the hospital bed?
  • Do we need a full-time nurse?
  • Which family members are going to help out?
  • How do I pay for this?

These questions and many more can add to the burden that you may already be experiencing.

Remember that grief is a normal reaction to loss. Grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who was always there for you only to discover that when you need them, they are ill and cannot be there for you.

Friends, the grieving process will not just begin when they are gone. You might start to feel the pain in your heart even when they first complain about discomfort, or even much before this.

But we are so smart. We know that we need to protect our hearts and so we refuse to embrace our feelings.

There are no set deadlines for grieving; just like there is no set number of feelings you may have about a situation. Be open to the idea that the patient may be feeling some grief as well. Grief can be felt on many levels: emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental.

Every relationship is unique, and each and every one of us will experience our grief differently. Erica and I both lost our father to cancer. We were both in the room on the day he died. But we both tell a completely different story about his death. Don’t expect every family member to grieve the way you are grieving.

Prior to our father dying, some of the forms of grief we experienced looked like this:

  • We were very sad.
  • Tears did not appear until closer to the end.
  • We both talked about how lonely it felt at times.
  • We had this overwhelming urge to talk about him a lot.
  • I felt fear. Erica said she did not experience this.
  • We were both exhausted and had long days and nights.
  • We both did not want to leave the house. We had this feeling that while we were out, he might need us for something.
  • We were emotionally drained at times. This sometimes even resulted in silly laughter. 

Our advice to a griever would be this:

  • Express your feelings: Talk to a good listener. Tell people how you are feeling. Do your best not to resist your feelings. Be honest.
  • Take your self-care very seriously during these times: You will get tired very quickly. Towards the end, we were pulling round-the-clock shifts. Remember that if you fall ill yourself, it will be no good to anyone who may need you.
  • Spend time together: This is important for the family as well as the patient. Be there. Be near. Talk. Tell the truth about yourself, your feelings, and how you feel about them. If you are brave enough, have that tough conversation you have been holding on to for 20 years. Practice love, forgiveness, and letting go (if you need help with this, reach out to someone).

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